David Scott Cowper Makes History – Again

David Scott Cowper in Polar Bound is currently approaching the eastern entrance to Bellot Strait in the heart of the Northwest Passage. There’s nothing unusual in that in this day and age, you may think, but take a look at how he got there:

PolarBound-20160828-1300

We speculated about this possibility earlier this year, and Polar Bound has now travelled in a westerly direction through Fury and Hecla Strait rather than taking the usual route via Lancaster Sound. According to the definitive reference on such matters by Bob Headland of the Scott Polar Research Institute she is the first vessel ever to do so using route West 7:

NWP-Routes

According to the Canadian Ice Service charts Polar Bound will only have needed to negotiate a short stretch of 1-3 tenths concentration sea ice to achieve her latest Northwest Passage “first”:

Foxe_20160828180000

Maud_20160828180000

David Scott Cowper is already mentioned several times in the SPRI list of successful Northwest Passage transits:

1986-89
Mabel E. Holland (12·8 m lifeboat), Britain, David Scott Cowper, West 6, Single-handed voyage, vessel wintered at Fort Ross twice, and at Inuvik

2003-04
Polar Bound (14·6 m motorboat), Britain, David Scott Cowper, East 5, Single-handed voyage, wintered in Cambridge Bay, assisted by CCGS Louis S. St Laurent in Prince Regent Inlet

2009
Polar Bound (14·6 m motorboat), Britain, David Scott Cowper, West 5, Single-handed voyage

2011
PolarBound (14·6 m motorboat), Britain, David Scott Cowper, East 3

2012
PolarBound (14·6 m motorboat), Britain, David Scott Cowper, West 1

2013
PolarBound (14·6 m motorboat), Britain, David Scott Cowper, East 5, Traversed Pond Inlet

It looks as though there will be another addition real soon now, but for the moment note in particular the entry for 2012. Route 1 is the northernmost of the potential paths through the Northwest Passage and involves negotiating the usually ice bound McClure Strait. Polar Bound was the first ever small vessel to do so! At the moment it looks like that will be a difficult feat to repeat this year. Whilst many of the assorted channels through the Northwest Passage melted out early this year the recent recurring cyclones have ensured that McClure Strait remains firmly blocked:

 

[Edit – September 3rd]

Polar Bound has just emerged from the western end of Bellot Strait:

PolarBound-20160903-2130

The $64,000 question is where is she headed next?

 

[Edit – September 4th]

The short term answer is a sheltered spot between Hobday Island and Prince of Wales Island:

PolarBound-20160904-1330

 

[Edit – September 7th]

Polar Bound is taking the most obvious exit from the Canadian Arctic Archipelago, and is currently heading for Coronation Gulf via Dease Strait:

PolarBound-20160907-1200

Northabout is currently travelling in the opposite direction. Perhaps they’ll soon meet there?

 

[Edit – September 8th]

It seems they did!

 

[Edit – September 17th]

David Scott Cowper is currently approaching Barrow in Polar Bound, but the weather forecast is more than a bit blustery. According to today’s National Weather Service forecast, here’s what he should expect:

POINT FRANKLIN TO CAPE HALKETT-
405 AM AKDT SAT SEP 17 2016

…SMALL CRAFT ADVISORY IN EFFECT FROM LATE THIS MORNING THROUGH
EARLY SUNDAY MORNING…

TODAY
SW WINDS 25 KT. SEAS BUILDING TO 5 FT. SNOW AND RAIN.

TONIGHT
W WINDS 30 KT. SEAS 9 FT. FREEZING SPRAY.

SUN
W WINDS 30 KT. SEAS 10 FT. FREEZING SPRAY.

SUN NIGHT
W WINDS 30 KT. SEAS 11 FT.

Let’s hope Polar Bound finds some shelter before the worst of it arrives on Sunday night.

 

[Edit – September 21st]

It seems Polar Bound didn’t find shelter, and instead reversed course during the worst of the storm:

polarbound-20160921-1100

However, as you can see, she has now passed Point Barrow and is Heading south towards the Arctic Circle via the Bering Strait:

polarbound-barrowcam_20160921_024500

Can you spot the yellow needle in the icy haystack? There is currently much “debate” in the cryodeinialosphere to the effect that Northabout nearly became “trapped by ice”, so let’s also take a quick look at the National Weather Service ice chart covering Barrow shall we?

nws-alaska-20160921

It seems Polar Bound somehow managed to wend her way through 7-8/10 concentration sea ice, does it not?

 

[Edit – September 24th]

Polar Bound has now crossed the Arctic Circle and is heading south through the Bering Strait:

polarbound-20160924-1030

David Scott Cowper has therefore now “officially” completed his record breaking route West 7 transit of the Northwest Passage.

Very well done sir, and bon voyage!

3 thoughts on “David Scott Cowper Makes History – Again

  1. David Scott Cowper is still at anchor at Fort Ross. However I suspect he’s had a least one discussion with the Top to Top Global Climate Expedition about the intricacies of the Fury & Hecla Strait. That’s because, whilst there’s no mention of their departure on their blog as yet, their yacht Pachamama is already rapidly approaching the western entrance!

  2. Pachamama has now completed her west to east transit of Fury & Hecla Strait:

    Congratulations!

    A new article on their blog confirmed my suspicions:

    Polar Bound, a motor boat with a thick double aluminum hull built for the ice, came all the way from Great Britain trough H&F Strait in the opposite direction about the same time. They stopped only once in Greenland before Fort Ross! They told us it was difficult.

    We have made the decision to try to get through the Fury and Hecla Strait and to turn back if there is too much ice. Fingers crossed we’ll make it!

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